Gowhere Hip Hop

Leila Steinberg (2Pac's former manager) interview with Gowhere Hip Hop

Happy Birthday Tupac Shakur!
Tupac Shakur Birthday Quote

Earlier today, we had the privilege to have an in-depth discussion with Leila Steinberg, 2Pac's first manager and one of his earliest mentors, on this the anniversary of 2Pac's birthday. It was a memorable experience and conversation where Leila provided her insight of a 17-year old Tupac Shakur and vividly described his work ethic, his personality, and his vision to change the way humanity approaches the world that he had hoped would be carried out someday. Read the entire conversation in full below, and you're guaranteed to learn something new about hip hop's most polarizing figure, just like I did! Happy Birthday Tupac Shakur! You've instilled a change that has rippled through all of existence making the impossible possible, and the hidden revealed. Thank you for your fire! 


GWHH: So today is the birthday of Tupac Shakur and to celebrate his life we're here with Leila Steinberg who was Tupac's first manager and early mentors. So our first question is, can we bring it back to when you first met him in 1989? What was your first impression of him? What was he like back then?

LS: Just an incredible spirit and an awesome young man. On first meeting, you meet people and you connect with them. He's one of the deepest connections in my life and he will always be. Yeah, Pac was definitely a connection that was one of a kind.

GWHH: Yeah, and just lookin' at his old interviews, his energy was just... contagious, right?

LS: Absolutely. His smile, his laugh, his energy, his humanity. He was contagious, I always use that word. *laughs* That's a good description. I can't believe it has been 13 years. I am still in shock. All I'm doing is listening to 'Pac songs.

GWHH: Yeah, I mean, every year this time of year, when the anniversary of his death comes around in September, it really is...

LS: Yeah, there's a lot of 2Pac energy. It kind of permeates the glow. I get lots of e-mails from all over. And then all this energy around the film that's supposed to be coming will really bring the next generation, because you know, we've had over a decade. So then we'll move into the next decade, it'll hit them right in the center because it will take awhile to get the film done, but it will take his legacy to another place.

GWHH: Yeah, definitely, I mean there is a whole younger generation who is listening to today's hip hop that definitely wasn't able to experience 2Pac when he was alive. It's definitely great to continue his legacy with this film.

LS: It's a cyclical thing. And now it's been 13 years since he hasn't been here. So now there's this generation of teenagers that wasn't alive when 2Pac was here. And there's this resurgence, because I'm so immersed in music and music education so I see what this generation is listening to now. So now there's this whole 2Pac energy within these next group of teens, but they have no idea how strong it's about to be when the film goes into production and someone gets the role of 2Pac.

GWHH: Can you share more details that you know about the film? How far are they along with the progress?

LS: All I know is that in the press it says that Morgan Creek is doing it, that Antwan Sooqua is directing it. In the weeks ahead, I'll have more of an indicator because somebody at least is going to want to use a resource right here [in L.A.] and I do believe it's coming. ...I want to come to Chicago, there's so much talent. Chicago is a very special city. 2Pac would have wanted to do a lot more in that area and it didn't happen so.. just putting it out there.

GWHH: Yeah, we would have loved to have seen that. And summertime here in Chicago.. there's no better place to be.

LS: I love Chicago. And I love the people and the talent there. People have no clue as to what a hotbed Chicago is. They know certain artists have come out of there but just the thinking, and the community out there in Chicago is awesome. I would love to do some work out there in Chicago and even make a stronger bridge between Chicago and L.A. I can't talk about 2Pac without talking about my journey and who I work with now. But one of my favorite artists that I'm working with now... only Chicago can produce an artist like this. I have a young rap artist; his name is Cyrano, he's from Chicago, a Gemini like 2Pac at that, I have done a lot of travelling with him, overseas. And here's what so amazing about Cyrano. He's from the south side of Chicago, he went to USC. There are very few law young black men in the law department at USC, maybe none when he was there, I'm not sure. But he graduated top of his class, passed the Bar, got his Masters in London in economics, and he became a lawyer, certified at 24, and has been touring on and off with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Can you imagine? It would take a Gemini and someone from Chicago, to be rapping and trying to practice law and representing the talent that he's representing in L.A. And Pac would have loved that, can you imagine that? Pac wanted to be in politics, he thought one day he would run for office. So it's very similar, but when you're at the level of practicing law and handling your own business and at the same time as being one of the most amazing artists - that's the future of artistry. Changing the entire persona and 'Pac was a part of that. Only because of 'Pac that I am working with Cyrano.

GWHH: Yeah, wow, we're excited to see how his story progresses.

LS: I'm working with a number of amazing artists, but he's a very important story, and just his accomplishments at that age - at 25, the age 'Pac was when he left us - this young man is stepping into a whole vision for those that come from struggle. So I think Pac would have been so proud, I'm just excited to share that with you.

GWHH: Yeah definitely, and we're excited to share that with our readers because there's a lot of parallels, yet a lot of differences in his own journey that hopefully people can find inspiration in.

LS: I always want to share something that no one would ask or know. But really, 'Pac is healing kids to this day all over the world. There are motherless and fatherless children who e-mail me every single day and let me know and remind me that he soothes them, he rocks them to sleep at night, and helps young people know that they can make it no matter what is going on in their lives. And that is one of the most powerful tributes to this day for 'Pac's legacy is that he's still healing kids, parenting them. People just can't believe that, that they'll understand 'Pac's voice or why he was here.

GWHH: So to touch on your working relationship with 'Pac, can you share with our readers a memorable experience in working and mentoring him?

LS: 2Pac was very, very difficult and exciting at the same time. You couldn't tell him anything; he knew everything. He was incredibly stubborn, with incredible vision. He had a work ethic unlike no other that I have met, to date. Cyrano was close, but I still have not met anybody that work's as much, as hard, as desperate as 2Pac did. He didn't need to sleep much. His body... different people have different requirements. And he literally did not require the same amount of sleep. It's like he worked on some other level, where he tapped into another energy source and has this desperation to complete what he felt he was here to do. A lot of people say that, but it's really real. 24/7 was the name of the company that he never really got to do anything with. That was going to be his film company. 24/7 is how he worked and how he lived, so he kind of dreamed awake and slept on his feet.

GWHH: Heh, that's awesome. And that inspires a thought of mine in that some people don't realize how much 2Pac read books. We all know he was always writing, he was always rhyming, but can you talk a little bit about how much he was reading?

LS: He carried a dictionary and a thesaurus at all times. So in the backpack that he always traveled with, was always a thesaurus, a dictionary, a work of literature... He was always wanting to read a piece of literature. And then he always had to have something non-fiction. A biography, a memoir, a historical piece. Something spiritual. He was not just an avid reader, but a reader of many different things and many different worlds. We read a lot of political books together. We studied systems, be it anarchy, Marxism... we studied spiritual movements. That was truly one of the things that was the glue in our relationship was our search for purpose, meaning, and educating ourselves in the different things that surround our world. Because both of us, as strange as it is, believe we can change the thinking of humanity. And you know, a certain time period, within at least my lifetime, because he never felt he would be here to see it - that we can change the consciousness of the globe. It was so tangible. People think, 'Oh here's a 17-year old...'. You didn't know he was going to be the artist he became. I knew it immediately. And we worked for it. It wasn't some hap-hazzard, oh it's just luck... no. We worked everyday, the grind was like nothing we've ever seen. And most of it was driven by Pac's vision and his desperateness. But we really were crazy enough, we were kids that came from generations of activists. Our mothers were activists in different things, and that was where we had our closest bond. We both wanted to change the collective consciousness for the positive development of humanity.

GWHH: How do you see the collective consciousness change from then to now?

LS: Oooh, that can be a whole other conversation. I talk about it a lot in detail in my book, which ranges from my experiences between 1988 and 1998. Pac instilled the seeds of change that affect every generation. Every Ivy League school is now studying 2Pac as an activist, because it was overlooked while he was alive. What most people don't realize is that Pac's done more for race/racism issues than anyone before him, because he was desperate and determined to change the world. He had powerful vision that felt like it was connected to a higher channel, and he knew it because he surrendered himself to it. He was naked to the world spiritually and emotionally. He was so open about himself, and the truth he saw in life that he became an example of a no fear mentality to where anything is possible. Completely open spiritually and one with the world. He radically changed the collective consciousness of human thought, and can be compared to his generation's Marvin Gaye or Bob Marley. More and more people will realize how he's affecting political activism - children with single parents. He's a timeless voice.

GWHH: So on this last note, you're saying that Tupac's legacy is instilled today by allowing the new generation to believe that anything is possible?

LS: Absolutely, absolutely.

Follow Leila Steinberg more closely below: 
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